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Abena Oteng-Agipong, Alum, InfoSci Ugrad and MPS '11

Abena Oteng-Agipong InfoSci Alum

Abena Oteng-Agipong is an alum of both the Information Science undergraduate and MPS programs. She is currently working as a System Analyst I at Dynamics Research Corporation, a firm that works with the FDIC. She is a graduate of the Information Science department's undergraduate and MPS programs. The first section of questions below relate to her undergraduate experience and the second relate to the MPS program. 

Questions related to the Information Science Undergraduate Program

Why did you decide to select the Information Science program?

After taking an art class, I discovered that web design was one way that I can apply the aesthetic knowledge that I’ve gained from previous art experience from middle and high school to a modern and evolving field. Once I was introduced to the Information Science program though a fellow classmate, Ben Cole, I learned that there were many aspects to Information Science. I felt that the program was exciting, challenging, flexible and attracted people from different backgrounds and skills. I felt that the diverse of topics and skills to be learned though the program ultimately made me decided to switch to IS. Well, that and the great source of peers I had in the program.

Did the program meet your expectations?  Why?

I think the program meet most of my expectations because I was able to take a wide range of different classes. I think this is really important for the success of the program; the more variety of classes IS students have, the more they can learn and the more skills they can develop. This will definitely make it difference when it to having an “edge” in the job market.

Did you feel you had a clear-cut goal either before or during the program?

I personally didn’t have a clear-cut goal because I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do. Part of me wanted to go the user interface design or human-computer interaction route, the other part of me really wanted to go into web and application design. The great thing about the program is that I was able to do both. I was also able to explore game design a bit, which would become somewhat of a focus for me for my masters.

What parts of the program were important to reach your goal?  What skills that you learned in college have benefited you most in your career?

I felt that the human-computer interaction and information systems tracks where the most important tracks for me. Information systems taught me the programming knowledge that I think is necessary for developing and the HCI track taught design and usability issues. Making usable systems is becoming a big focus in the technology world nowadays so having someone who knows both sides and can really communicate to both developers and clients as well as having someone who understands user needs is highly desirable.

If you had to make any recommendations for the program, what would they be?

I would highly recommend a IS specific portfolio creation class. Employers always ask for this. Also, a second level to Rapid Prototyping would be nice. I liked it because I have never physically built any hardware before that class. It was challenging but fun and lots of cool projects came out the class.

What advice would you give to a current student in the program?

Try to take some classes outside your “tracks.” You may learn or experience something new. Also, I think project-based classes are a great way to develop skills and reinforce concepts by forcing you to put concepts and theories into practice.


Questions related to the Information Science MPS Program

Why did you select the MPS program at Cornell?

I chose the MPS program because I felt that it would offer the same flexibility that I had during my undergrad. Again, I wanted to have both a design and technical focus. Also, during my undergrad, I took a game design course which I thought was a great way to bring everything I’ve learned through the IS together into one project; I planned to continue exploring game design through the MPS program.

What is the most important thing you learned?

I actually learned about different web technologies through Web Information Systems. This has been pretty helpful so far with my current job. Deception in the Networked Age was also an interesting class for me, it wasn’t an “engineering”-based class and gave me a new perspective (since I didn’t take many Social systems classes). I enjoyed learning about something new and was quite challenged by the class. Lastly, I learned how to juggle many projects simultaneously, which will be useful in the professional world.

What is the thing you liked the most about the program?

I liked the flexibility of the program and I enjoyed being able to take as many game design classes as I did through the program.   

What advice you would give to incoming students?

Careful Scheduling; even though one must complete all the requirements in a relatively short time, scheduling a balance of “time-sinks” and technical classes verses classes will make the semester run a little more smoothly.

How are you currently using something you took away from the program?

My position is split between developing and designing. The technical partition of my current jobs requires web design and web technologies knowledge and the design portion of my job has me making graphics that would be used in print and on the web and prototyping new applications. When prototyping and making paper and functional mockups, knowledge about usability is highly useful.